Racewalker Jared Tallent today became the first Australian male track and field athlete in one hundred years to win two medals at the same Games. This occurred when he won silver today in the 50km walk at Beijing.
AUSTRALIAN Jared Tallent has made history, taking a silver and bronze medal at the Games, fuelled by a diet of pizza and flat soft drink.
Tallent finished second in the Olympic men’s 50km race walk today, adding the silver medal to the bronze he won in the 20km race last week.
Remarkably, today’s gruelling race was just Tallent’s third over the 50km journey.
And he did it after succumbing last night to the lure of his favourite food, pizza, and while sipping flat Coke in the latter stages of the race to get a caffeine and sugar rush, without the stomach-trembling fizz.
After vomiting after the finish line in the 20km race, he was happy just to keep it down today.
“It (pizza) is my favourite food, it had been tempting me for the whole two weeks,” Tallent said.
“Everyone was telling me ‘keep it down today’ so I was thinking about that.”
The pizza helped restore energy sapped from his bronze medal performance in the 20km walk.
“I started to feel good yesterday,” he said.
“I wasn’t sure, I was a bit worried that I might get to 20km and go ‘oh geez’… lucky it didn’t happen.”
Tallent, better known as a 20km walker, finished second to Alex Schwarzer of Italy in a personal-best time of 3hr 39min 27sec.
Schwarzer, who finished third in the 50km race at the world championships in Osaka, Japan, last year, won in an Olympic-record time of 3hr 37min 09sec.
Denis Nizhegorodov, the world record-holder and the 50km silver medallist in Athens four years ago, finished third in a time of 3hr 40min 14sec.
Tallent’s Australia teammate Luke Adams finished 10th in a time of 3hr 47min 45sec, but Adam Rutter, from Sydney, failed to finish.
Tallent led the race at the 40km mark, with Nizhegorodov and Schwazer on his heels as the three men broke away from the rest of the field.
But the Italian produced a burst of speed which left Tallent and Nizhegorodov in his wake and fighting for the silver medal.
The Australian then upped his pace and achieved an advantage of about 40 seconds on Nizhegorodov by the 45km mark.
Tallent said he was exhausted after the 20km race, but warming up in the magnificent Olympic stadium this morning pumped him up for the 50km walk.
“I was just looking up at the flame, at the rings up on the tower … and just though this is it,” he told the Seven Network.
“All those years of hard work, it all comes down to this.
“I just thought about that the whole way.”
Tallent will marry his fiancee, road walker Claire Woods, who placed 28th in yesterday’s women’s 20km walk, after the Games – in Walkerville in South Australia.
“I’m so proud of her, it’s just a dream come true both coming to the Olympics together,” he said.
“She walked her PB yesterday, she’s rapt with her performance.
“I don’t think the rest of our lives will probably ever live up to this.”
Stan Rowley, at the 1900 Paris Games, was the last Australian male previously to win multiple track and field medals at a single Olympics. Rowley won bronze medals in the 60m, 100m and 200m.
Nigel Barker, however, won two bronze medals in the 100m and 400m at the 1906 Intercolated Games in Athens, which are often referred to as an “unoffical Olympic Games”. The 1906 Games have not been sanctioned or ratified by the International Olympic Committee.
Raelene Boyle, at the 1972 Munich Games, was the last Australian of any gender previously to win two medals at one Olympics, with her silver medals in the 100m and 200m.